Leukemia Program

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The Leukemia Program at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi provides specialized care and support for people diagnosed with leukemia, close to home. Our team is experienced in diagnosing and treating a range of different types of leukemia, including acute lymphoblastic leukemia, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, acute and chronic myeloid leukemia, and others.

The skilled, multidisciplinary Leukemia Program team supports the care of both outpatients and inpatients at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi. The program offers specialized testing to explore the genetics of each patient and will then tailor treatments specifically to each individual.  

  • Why Choose Us?
  • What We Treat
  • Symptoms
  • Diagnosis & Treatment
  • Prevention & Screening
  • Program Caregivers

Why Choose Us?

We offer every patient a dedicated team of medical experts to support them, and their family, throughout their cancer journey. The multidisciplinary team meets daily to discuss each patient’s needs, their progress and to decide the best treatment plan. We work closely with the Leukemia and Myeloid Disorders Program at Cleveland Clinic in the US when needed, one of the largest and most respected blood cancer programs in the world, and home to one of the country’s only rare blood cancer clinics.   


What We Treat

Leukemia is cancer which starts in the bone marrow. Leukemia is categorized based on which type of white blood cell is affected; myeloid or lymphocytes, and whether it is developing quickly (acute) or slowly (chronic).  

The Leukemia Program treats a range of leukemias, including:

  • Acute myeloid leukemia: Affects premature myeloid cells, which are the cells that mature into red blood cells, platelets, and most white blood cells. In acute myeloid leukemia the cells multiply rapidly making this form of the disease more aggressive.  
  • Chronic myeloid leukemia: Affects mature myeloid cells. These cells usually grow slowly. 
  • Acute lymphoblastic leukemia: Affects immature lymphoid cells in bone marrow and the thymus gland. These cells mature into white blood cells called lymphoblasts. In this disease cells multiple rapidly making this form of the disease more aggressive. 
  • Chronic lymphocytic leukemia: Affects the mature lymphoid cells in bone marrow and the thymus gland. These cells usually grow slowly. 
  • Blastic plasmacytoid dendritic cell neoplasm: A rare, aggressive hematologic malignancy.  
  • Hairy cell leukemia: Affects white blood cells. 
  • T-cell prolymphocytic leukemia: Affecting mature T-cells (lymphocytes) this cancer is very rare and aggressive.
  • Chronic myelomonocytic leukemia: A rare leukemia that is characterized by increased white blood cells. 
  • Others.

Symptoms, Causes & Risk Factors

Symptoms of Leukemia

Symptoms of leukemia develop when the number of cancerous cells increases within the bone marrow. Acute leukemia symptoms tend to appear suddenly, be more severe and are similar to those of a virus or flu. Symptoms of chronic leukemia can take a long time to develop, and the disease is often discovered when an elevated white blood cell count is noticed during a routine blood test.  More common symptoms of leukemia include:  

  • Anemia 
  • Bruising and bleeding (due to low platelet levels) 
  • Infections (caused by weak immunity) 
  • Fevers 
  • Night sweats 
  • Weight loss 
  • Fatigue

These symptoms can also be caused by many other common conditions so always see your doctor for an accurate diagnosis. 

Causes & Risk Factors of Leukemia

Blood cancers are caused by changes (mutations) that happen in the DNA within our blood cells. Other risk factors for developing the most common types of blood cancer can include:

  • Exposure to high doses of radiation 
  • Exposure to certain industrial chemicals 
  • Smoking 
  • History of cancer treatment (radiation or chemotherapy)  
  • Myelodysplastic syndromes (a bone marrow failure disorder in which around a third of patients develop leukemia) 
  • Rare genetic syndromes (Downs syndrome, Fanconi anemia, ataxia-telangiectasia, and Bloom syndrome put people at a slightly higher risk) 
  • Family history (if a first-degree relative has had leukemia, the risk increases slightly). 

It’s important to note that most people with one (or more) of the above risk factors will never develop leukemia, and that most people who develop the disease have no known risk factors. 


Diagnosis & Treatment

Diagnosis of Leukemia

Diagnosing leukemia can involve a number of tests to accurately determine its type and subtype, and may include: 

  • Blood tests
  • Bone marrow biopsies
  • Lumbar puncture

Imaging scans, including: 

  • CT scan 
  • MRI scan 
  • PET scan 
  • X-ray 
  • Ultrasound 

Treatment for Leukemia

After a diagnosis has been given, the team will decide on the most effective treatment plan, based on several factors including your age, the type of leukemia you have, how advanced the cancer is, as well as other factors.  

Treatment may include: 

  • Immune therapy: The use of monoclonal antibodies to target the cancer cells. 
  • Targeted therapy: Using new drugs to target specific mutations on cancer cells. 
  • Chemotherapy: The use of anticancer drugs, sometimes in combination, to stop the growth of cancer cells.  
  • Stem cell transplantation: Infusing healthy blood-forming stem cells, collected from the bone marrow, circulating blood or umbilical cord blood, into the body. 
  • Cellular therapy: Using modified immune cells to fight cancer. 
  • Radiation therapy: Given to destroy cancer cells or to relieve pain or discomfort.  

Prevention & Screening

Researchers are still unsure how to prevent leukemia. However, being aware of the symptoms and reducing the known risk factors, such as avoiding exposure to radiation and harmful chemicals, may be helpful.  

Following a healthy lifestyle, eating a balanced diet and taking regular exercise can reduce your chances of developing many types of cancer.


Program Caregivers

Our Leukemia Program doctors have extensive expertise in the field of cancer and blood disorders, and are board certified in each of the hematology and medical oncology specialties. The team provides excellent, Patients First medical care based on current United States and international guidelines. Caregivers involved in patient care for this program includes: 

  • Consultant physicians in hematology and oncology 
  • Pharmacists 
  • Nurses 
  • Pathologists 
  • Radiologists 
  • Radiation therapists 
  • Social workers 
  • Case managers 
  • Physical therapists 
  • Infectious diseases specialists 
  • Cardiologists 
  • Nephrologists 
  • Patient coordinators 
  • Patient educators 

Leukemia Program Doctors

Meet the doctors who can help with Leukemia

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